Hoarding Happens

English: Photo of the living room of a compuls...

Maybe you hoard and you don’t even know it…

Recently, I watched show on pack rats or hoarders.  It was an intervention show, the kind where either the court or loved ones see a problem and intervene to help the person deal with their “issue.”

I’m not a pack rat, so was mesmerized by the hold “stuff” had on these poor souls.

The first image I remember seeing was a woman winding her way through her home to get to the front door to let the professional organizer in.  Her path was flanked by waist-high piles of boxes, newspapers, clothing and trash.  It was hard to imagine anyone actually “living” in that home, for there were no open areas, no available places to sit or sleep.  She pointed out where she sat to watch TV and the couch was covered high with “stuff.”

One of the show’s two interventions was prompted by a court order–a woman’s husband had to leave the house for health reasons until it was habitable.  The other was prompted by loving family members.  In both instances the professional organizers weren’t there to toss, organize and clean, they were there to help the hoarder release their grip on their stuff.  Nothing was thrown without permission, nothing was boxed unless the pack rat gave a nod.

The hoarders struggled with releasing simple things like newspaper comics and outdated, blank calendars.  Tears flowed at the thought of parting with items acquired at garage sales and newsstands, items that had no monetary worth.  The process of editing was slow and painstaking.  Each was losing something dear to them, something that held their affection and each “yes” to the dumpster or give away pile was heart wrenching.  Their hearts were fed by the acquisition of “stuff” yet they were never satisfied, they were always grasping for more.

While watching, I felt my jaw drop.  I could not imagine being so sentimental about so much stuff.  I could not imagine surrounding myself with piles of this and that.  I could not see how living like that would be life-giving.

Then it hit me–we all do it.  In one way or another we fill our inner “homes,” our inner lives with “stuff.”  Instead of hoarding piles in our physical home, we shove our calendar chock full of “stuff to do.”  Instead of acquiring unneeded socks, hangers and dishes, we stock our mind with worry, shopping lists, carpool calendars, work meetings, obsessive thoughts, church committee agendas. In doing so we create an inner cacophony that deafens us to the Voice of God, to what really needs our attention, to what is actually life-giving.  We create an inner space that cannot be maneuvered, that is paralyzing and consuming.

One lady in the show said, with desperation in her voice, something like this: “If I don’t get rid of it, it will consume me.” I think she was on to something: that whatever is filling our lives will consume us. Eventually it’ll take over and make our life unmanageable. Soon we’ll be managed by our stuff, instead of managing our stuff.

I think I need to double check what is filling my heart and mind. I need to look and see what I bring home and plop down in my inner living room. Does it create room for God or does it crowd God out?  Does it have eternal merit?  Does it bring life to others?  Does it glorify Christ?

Maybe I’m a hoarder of the internal kind, maybe I cling to things unseen. Maybe I grasp at ideas instead of Jesus, maybe I fill the day’s agenda without asking Him for His agenda, maybe I crowd out time with Him for time with everyone else. Something to pray about, something to ponder…


Thanks to blog friend, David Rupert, and his insightful post Cluttered places, cluttered minds, for the inspiration to revise and re-publish this post.

4 thoughts on “Hoarding Happens

  1. Aren’t those shows uncomfortable? The first (and only) time I watche one of those, i went out to the garage and started throwing stuff away.

    Our stuff holds us back from finding new things. It keeps us rooted to the past, to the memory, to the comfortable.

    Another great post.


  2. David,
    Yes! Those shows are disturbing, even depressing. I don’t make a habit of watching them, this one I happened on after a football game. Unlike you, though, I didn’t get busy clearing away. Nice thought, maybe next time :)

    I agree with you, stuff does bind and weigh us down. Travel light–Jesus got it–I need to make some adjustments.

    Thanks for your inspiration–your post was wonderful, so insightful and challenging.


  3. Hi Jodiq,
    This was a great post! Clutter consumes so many lives and it’s sad to see. I work with Christian women who suffer with this very issue and I’ve seen the devastation living with clutter leaves behind. The good news is that the entrance of God’s word brings light and hope to what would otherwise be a hopeless situation. I’m glad I found your blog. I’ll stop in again soon and make a point to look around and read more of your writings.
    Thank you for sharing this.


    1. Thanks for stopping in, Liz, and for your insider’s perspective on this problem. I am encouraged to know that you see God’s healing, even in this. His healing touches everything. I look forward to hearing from you again. Your wisdom is most welcome. Many blessings….


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